I stretched lazily and stifled a yawn and blinked as I took in my surroundings and shook the fog from my mind.
Acrid smoke, musty bookshelves, burnt leather apron, glass vials and tubes… the laboratory.
Still more than a little confused as to why I was so sleepy and seemingly unaware of how I ended up in the lab, the serenity that followed waking was rapidly replaced by a rising panic that sharpened my senses and brought me to my feet with a resounding crash as the chair I had been sleeping on was thrown backwards into the wall.
Fully alert, wide-eyed and in in control of my faculties I stared around the lab for clues as to what had transpired before I woke. There was nothing to indicate anything unusual on the desk where I had clearly slumbered, stretched over various parchments and little paper sachets of various mineral and other content.
“What day is it today?” I wondered as I took in the labels on the little paper sachets, salt, willow bark, potassium, wheat germ?
“What was I working on?”
As I trailed my gaze over the workbench I started to see obvious patterns that had escaped me before, the willow bark sachet was mostly empty and was not properly sealed, the potassium sachet was clearly crumpled and there was an empty beaker with some dried scale remnants still clinging to the sides.
I decided to stop worrying, that it would all come back to me and headed out to the dormitory.
As I walked I took in the sights and smells, allowing them to permeate my senses in a way that seemed more real than I had ever noticed before. I seemed to be infused with a healthy dose of life, seeing vivid colours in everything I looked at and hearing with an alarming clarity.
As I neared the dorms, I saw Jeune sitting on the steps, head in hands.
My cheerful greeting is met by a blank faced stare and then a wide smile spreads of his face as he leaps up and throws his arms around me.
“Where have you been? We’ve all been so worried about you!”
“Where have I been? I was actually going to ask you something similar! I woke up in the lab in section 4 about an hour ago with no memory of what I had been doing to get there.”
“In the lab?” Jeune’s raucous laughter startled me and I stepped back confused.
“What’s so funny? I am having a bit of a panic because I have no idea how long I slept or how I ended up there!”
Jeune looked me full in the face with a broad smile and said simply “Come with me.”
With that he turned and raced back up the steps shouting for Thoom and Gandy who were likely milling about somewhere close.
As I started up the stairs I saw them emerge from the dormitory, looking for who had called them and locking eyes with me they both immediately started towards me. They were a few steps down when Jeune went bounding towards them jabbering away, too far for me to hear but clearly about me as he kept pointing at me and they started walking towards me again.
We met on the steps and Thoom and Gandy were clearly happy to see me though the frenetic excitement that had Jeune beaming all over the show didn’t seem to have them in its grasp.
Gandy grabbed me by the shoulders and said “You don’t remember anything? Not a single thing?”
I told him that I could remember everything, just not what had happened in the lead up to my waking in the lab. I told him I remembered everything from the previous day, going to class, reading from the old tomes in the religious studies section of the library, I just couldn’t remember where I couldn’t remember from. There didn’t seem to be much missing…
All three young men started chuckling and Thoom started talking in his gravelly voice – “Yesterday, the yesterday you are talking about when you went to the library to study old gods, that was two days ago!”
After that they all started talking, leaving me more and more amazed as the events unfurled.
It seemed that I had been trawling though ancient literature about long forgotten religions and I had stumbled across a god who was worshipped through drinking huge amounts of wine. The prospect of a god who had permeated the very seat of cultural acceptance had intrigued me and as my friends and I had sat having our evening meal, we had started to speak about the ancient deity.
The more we spoke, the more wine we drank and the more wine we drank, the more we spoke until at some point in the evening we had all been so drunk we had been unable to do much more than pour more wine.
At that point, the wine had begun to pour itself and I had called out to the ancient god to see if he still endured and then everything got weird.
Jeune told me that the wine casket we had been pouring from had started to glow, Gandy said that the whole room lit up and Thoom told me he could hear women singing gay ditties, all the while I was encased in a sparkling nimbus that had them wondering if there had been some of those red cap mushrooms in the meal we’d eaten.
The god, as it turned out, had not been dead and had in fact remained fairly powerful and had been overjoyed to hear his name spoken so many times and had chosen to come and bestow a great gift upon me for bringing his name back to the light of day.
“It would be a great gift if I knew what it was!” I said miserably.
Thoom reached out and passed me a wineskin and told me that the god said that I would have to drink wine when I returned.
I took the skin, put it to my lips and pulled a draught into my mouth and everything that had happened came back in a howling, powerful rage of ecstasy…